As adults we are all pretty much in control of our own destiny when it comes to weight gain. However, our children rely on us to steer them in the right direction and teach them important lessons on weight control.
Encouraging more physical activity and preparing tasty healthy meals are important steps towards showing kids how to eat healthily, as well as helping them to stay healthier for a lifetime.
Keep Your Kids Interested with Eclectic Eating
Although the US Department of Agriculture suggests a child’s plate should contain an even split of fruits and vegetables, most kids will push their plates away if you even considered it.
Healthy eating for kids can be harder to encourage if your children are under the age of six. This is because their taste buds are still developing – meaning strong-flavored things such as sprouts and broccoli can be over-powering to them.
Bear this in mind when introducing new foods to them and stick to food with a milder taste. Try and come up with easy snack recipes where you can come up with interesting and appealing presentations. You should also try and embrace as many different foods as you can when eating your own snacks and meals, because children will notice if you enjoy adventurous eating.
Adapt Old Favorites into Healthy Eating for Kids and Easy Snack Recipes
I have managed to introduce a whole host of new foods to son simply by making gradual, small changes to the family’s diet.
For example, I switched the usual white bread the family loved for a whole-grain version. I also swapped white rice for a whole-grain brand.
Introducing healthy eating for kids into your household is much easier of you don’t make a fuss about it and the best way to do this is by making healthy substitutions.
Fun Snack Recipes That Are a Twist on a Favorite Are a Good Way to Get Fiber and other Nutrients into Your Kid’s Diets
According to the National Institutes of Health children gain much of their excess weight from sugary drinks, which provide them with lots of calories and nothing in the way of nutrients.
When I discovered this I also replaced high-sugar drinks with sugar-free lemonade and water. I also refuse to buy processed food and pre-packaged snacks because my kids can’t eat them if they are not available.
Making Exercise Fun Encourages Healthy Eating for Kids
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, children aged between five and seventeen should engage in at least sixty minutes of exercise a day.
From the research I have done I was all too aware that while healthy eating for kids is an important part of a healthy lifestyle, so is regular exercise.
Fortunately, unlike us adults who need to be bribed into attending a fitness class or pushed on to the tread mill, children have much more opportunity to exercise. Most children will get their required exercise through fun play, which they take to naturally with out really realising it is good for them. I also take my children swimming and encourage them, weather permitting, to walk to places where we would maybe usually drive. Provide outside toys that require exercise to use, such as a frisbee, balls and jump ropes.
I always make sure I have some good easy snack recipes on hand when my children have been exercising, as I find their appetite increases afterwards. If we are out and about, I tend to choose easy snack recipes that are good to eat outside. If they have been playing in the garden or neighbourhood, I will encourage them to grab a piece of fruit to take out with them and then prepare a couple of snacks for when they return.
Healthy Eating for Kids – Easy Snack Recipes for School, Rest and Play
Ham Pin Wheels
Probably the simplest of after school snacks, this is what I mean by making healthy food visually appealing to your kids.
Simply take a whole grain tortilla and spread cream cheese on it. Place some lean ham, raisins and bell pepper on it. Then roll up the tortilla and cut it into wheels.
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, healthy eating for kids should start at home and extend in to their school life. The Centers goes on to say that children who are provided with healthy snacks from home are less likely to seek sugary snacks from vending machines or shops.
You can’t really go wrong with a smoothie, because not only do they provide parents with the opportunity to get more fruit, and even vegetables, into their children – they are also tasty and not too filling.
I usually make my kids’ smoothies with plain no-sugar yoghurt. I find that the fruit are sweet enough in themselves so no added sugar is really not necessary.
I then add a variety of different fruits – basically whatever is in the house: here it is grapes, blueberries and apples.
Fruit smoothies are also a good way to sneakily add vegetables to your children’s diets. Many a time I have added carrots and celery to smoothies, without the kids realising.
Amazing Avocado Almond Crackers
These healthy kids snacks are so easy to do and really, really nutrient. All you need is an avocado, a bit of cream cheese, some whole grain crackers and some almonds or nuts.
Mash the avocado and blend in some cream cheese. Spread it on some crackers and top them off with almonds or nuts.
Pita that Packs a Punch
Whole grain pita bread snacks are great if you kid is just a little bit more than peckish or really needs an energy boost e.g. just before doing sports.
All you need is a pita bread, cut it in half and fill it with whatever vegetables you have in the house that taste well heated you have in the house, e.g. bell pepper and tomatoes. Then mix in a bit of grated cheese and stick it in the microwave for a few minutes until the cheese melts.
This is a particular favorite with my toddler, who loves fruit of all kinds. I tend to stick to fruit that keeps well in a lunch box – such as strawberries, blueberries, cranberries and melon.
If you want to include apple and banana, give them the entire fruit as these tend to brown when not refrigerated. Other easy snack recipes made from fruit include, frozen bananas, fruit leathers and a yogurt, granola and fruit mix.
Home AND Away
While introducing fun and easy snack recipes to your kids at home may not be too much of a problem, there are several situations where you may not have as much control over what they eat as you would like.
Choose the restaurant wisely. You can hardly moan about the lack of healthy snacks available on the menu if it was you who chose the burger bar in the first place.
Instead, let your child choose something from the menu and work from there. If they immediately point out something unhealthy, shift their focus to something better on the menu – preferably something you make yourself at home.
Then you can say “Oh look, those are similar to my ham pin wheels”. Healthy eating for kids has to include letting them have a choice but it doesn’t mean you can’t influence them slightly.
Going to Grandmas
I often think grandparents are wired to fill kids up with items off their “completely unhealthy but fun snacks for kids” list.
Grandparents often see treating their grandchildren as a given but this doesn’t have to mean filling them full of fatty foods and sugary drinks.
As with anyone, all it takes is a little education – explain to their grandparents the importance of healthy eating and even offer to share some of your children’s favorite easy snack recipes.
Remember, most things are fine in moderation – so if Grandma wants to treat the kids to a huge ice cream sundae once a month, don’t say no! You may find your children eat healthier knowing they have a slightly naughty treat to look forward to.
Staying with Friends
Unfortunately, this is the scenario when you have the least control and there is very little you can do to change that.
If your kids’ friends are used to an unhealthy diet, you may have to accept that when they go over to visit, their choice of healthy snacks will be limited. Of course, there are little things you can do:
- If your child is only going for a short visit – send him with a packed snack from home. Pieces of fruit, a trial mix or a yogurt are all things that make great on-the-move snacks.
- If your child is staying overnight, you can accept whatever they eat is a one off or you could tell the other parent that you prefer your child not to have fatty food or sugary snacks. Healthy eating for kids is sometimes just as hard for parents to understand, who just want their children to be happy.
- If you know the parents well enough, consider sharing healthy snack recipes with them – just be cautious you do not appear condescending.
But My Friend Eats Candy EVERY Day….
One major problem, pointed out by the US Department of Agriculture, is that after family, other children are the next major influence on how your child eats. So while you may have a book full of healthy easy snack recipes, these are not going to impress your child who just wants to know why he can’t have candy every afternoon like his friend, Johnny.
Unfortunately, this is something you just have to deal with, although you shouldn’t be afraid of being brutally honest with your child when it comes to the importance of eating healthily.
As long as your chat is age-appropriate, you should explain how a poor diet can have a negative effect on a person’s weight and even health.
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